The National Rifle Association’s (NRA) new president, Carolyn Meadows, believes — strongly — in arming teachers, and argues “Mass shooters only go where the people are weak.”
Meadows also hopes to leverage the NRA’s base of supporters and organizational prowess to help re-elect Donald Trump. And she also firmly believes that, as president of the NRA, she is acting out God’s will — though, as she insists, she’s not religious.
These were among the things that Meadows revealed in a sweeping interview with the Marietta Daily Journal Monday, suggesting that the NRA will continue to serve as the partisan political institution it has evolved into after being founded as an organization dedicated to educating firearm owners and sportsmen about gun safety.
It may be the case that Meadows is unaware of — or would rather not acknowledge — the forces which have emerged as a counterbalance to the NRA’s rhetoric and political sway. Some measure of denial, at any rate, was on display when Meadows referred to Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA) as someone who was only elected because she was a “female minority,” and not because of her strong anti-gun platform.
McBath (D-GA) is, famously, the mother of Jordan Davis, a black teenage boy who was murdered by a white man at a gas station in 2012 when he fired into Davis’ car, aggrieved over the loud music he was playing. The car was filled with Davis’ friends at the time of the shooting. Davis’ murder catalyzed McBath’s emergence as a gun-safety advocate, and she quickly became a well-known and highly respected face within the movement. She subsequently harnessed her public profile into a successful run for Georgia’s 6th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, a seat Democrats haven’t held in decades.
Meadows’ remarks, dismissing McBath’s anti-gun platform as the source for support, aren’t just tone deaf, they are tinged with racism — “female minority” translates loosely to “she only won because she’s black.”
— Soledad O'Brien (@soledadobrien) May 6, 2019
While the NRA continues to steadily shed members along with millions of dollars in revenue, the organized efforts to promote gun safety and stronger regulation over gun ownership have grown in clout. Last year the children who survived the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida successfully organized and grabbed the attention of the nation, leading a movement for gun policy reform all the way to Washington D.C. Now, Democrats hoping to win the 2020 presidential nomination are announcing their own gun policy reform platforms. Many of their policies are supported by a majority of gun owners.
In her interview, Meadows positioned her organization as an arm of the Trump re-election campaign but attempted to couch these partisan ambitions in the rhetoric of Constitutional rights, saying: “We’re going to work to get Donald Trump reelected, unity, and that’s primarily it, to be politically active, to bring gun-toters into the fold, to get more gun-toters to join NRA.”
“It’s a powerful lobby,” she added, “not just for gun rights, but for rights. We believe in the Constitution. When we take our oath of office we actually swear allegiance to the Constitution of the United States. That’s why I do it.”
The NRA has, in the past, claimed to be America’s oldest civil rights organization. But while the NRA was founded in 1871, it was not until 1934 that the organization attempted to do any organizing “in response to repeated attacks on the Second Amendment Rights.” Both the National Association for the Deaf (NAD) and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), founded in 1880 and 1909, respectively, have a longer track record in civil rights.
Meadows will face some headwinds as she helms the NRA into its next era. Support for tighter gun laws have surged in the past five years, with over 6 in 10 Americans surveyed by Gallup responding in the affirmative when asked whether they “feel that the laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict.” That figure is down from its most recent height, however, where over two-thirds of survey respondents indicated their support.
“I would not have taken this job if I didn’t feel like I could save this country,” she says. She did not specify as to from what we need saving.